UN General Assembly Current Affairs - 2019

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India to attend SAARC Council of Ministers meeting

The SAARC Council of Ministers meeting is to be held on New York on 26th September 2019. Despite of the heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and its recently changed Constitutional status, the countries have agreed to participate in the meeting.

The meeting is being chaired by Nepal and that might bring in positive outcomes. The 2 countries have already sent their concurrent officials to attend the meeting.

SAARC is an annual summit and there were speculations it might not happen this year due to the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.

Previous SAARC Summits and issues

The last and the 18th SAARC summit was held in Kathmandu. Pakistan was to host the next SAARC summit. However, India pulled out of it following the Uri attack that killed 19 people. India said, it is ready to attend future SAARC summits if Pakistan took steps to tackle terror attack.

India – Pakistan disputes is the major cause for the ineffectiveness of SAARC. India being the major contributor with its unbeatable economic, military and international influence the disparity will bring reluctance from smaller states to work with India.

India, hence plans to strengthen BBIN initiatives to boost the trade and earn the strategic partnership with its neighbors. In 2018, Pakistan objected the Motor Vehicle Agreement proposed by India at the 18th SAARC summit. India hence pursued the motor vehicle agreement through BBIN.

Uri attack

On 18th September, 2016, 4 heavily armed terrorists attacked Indian army brigade headquarters in Uri. Terrorist group Jaish – e – Mohammed was involved in planning and execution of the attack. 17 army personnel were killed and 30 soldiers were injured.

SAARC

SAARC is South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. The member nations of the grouping are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. SAARC comprises of 21% of world population and 3.8% of world economy. SAARC was founded in Dhaka. There is no anthem for SAARC as that of other groupings (Eg: ASEAN)

As soon as SAARC was formed, SAFTA – South Asian Free Trade Agreement was the first major and fruitful step. It was signed in 2004. The agreement increased the exports substantially from 206 billion USD in 2009 to 602 billion USD in 2010.

The primary objective of the organization is to promote welfare of the people of South Asia accelerating their social and economic growth.

First India-Caribbean Summit – 2019

Prime Minister Modi met the leaders of the Caribbean Community on 25th September, 2019, in New York. The meeting focused on fighting climate change and increasing India’s participation in the grouping

At the meeting, PM Modi announced 14 million USD grant for community development projects in the region. He also extended 150 million USD of line of credit for renewable energy, solar and climate change related projects.

Leaders and representatives of the Caribbean countries Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Tobago and Trinidad attended the meeting. Modi also invited the countries to join ISA (International Solar Alliance) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure.

Why did India initiate the summit?

Carricom economies are highly dependent on trade. They are Single Market Economies. It means the economies allow free movement of goods, labor and services within the community. Hence, the return on investment is faster. Caribbean is home to more than 1 million Indian diasporas. The countries are rich in oil and petroleum.

Carricom Grouping

Carricom is Carribean Community whose establishment was a 15-year struggle. It was inspired by the emerging European community. After multilateral trade agreements like Central American Common Market, 1960 and Latin American Free Trade Agreement, 1960 and Andean Pact, 1969, Carricom was established in 1973. The Carricom Grouping has 15 member states and 5 associate members. They came together to form an economic and political community.

15 members of the grouping include Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Montserrat, Jamaica, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, St Lucia, Tobago and Trinidad. The associated members include Bermuda, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Cayman Islands.

India – Carricom relations

The first meeting of India – Carricom Foreign ministers was held in 2005. Since then, the trade between India and Carricom began to grow. India exports 16 million USD worth goods to the Carricom countries according EXIM report 2010. It includes transport equipment, machinery, iron and steel, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, metals, etc. The imports from the countries include 1.5 million USD worth goods. They are mostly metal scraps and wood products. Though the countries are rich in oil, India is currently not importing oil from Carricom countries.

The first India-Caribbean Conclave was held in 2009. In the conclave the potential areas of investment in the countries like small scale industries, water pumps for irrigation, medicine, etc were identified.